The word respair means the return of hope after a period of despair. It’s a rare word, unknown to most, but the feeling it describes has become familiar as 2022 ends and 2023 begins. For the graduate business education community and elsewhere, last year was a year of respair, of regaining hope after darker times.
So what will 2023 bring? As we do each year, Poets&Quants asked deans and others at the leading business schools around the globe to offer their prognostications for the new year — to look into their personal crystal balls, yes; to boast about programs old and new, certainly; but also to share their hopes for what will come in the next 12 months. In a time of war and pandemic, of climate change and division, a little respair among those who mold the business leaders of tomorrow goes a long way.
BERKELEY HAAS’ ANN HARRISON: 2023 WILL BE A YEAR OF SUSTAINABILITY, DIVERSITY & INNOVATION
“Last year,” writes Ann Harrison, dean of the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley, “I predicted a surge in demand for expertise in sustainability — and we are seeing this unfold with major policy shifts this year that set the stage for a surge of action and innovation to combat climate change. In the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act is the biggest package of climate investments in U.S. history. And at COP27, the UN Conference on Climate Change in November, we saw support for reshaping how some of the world’s biggest financial institutions respond to the devastation of climate-change-driven storms, floods, and droughts around the globe.
“With these policy shifts, I expect to see an acceleration of new investment and innovation in the clean tech and energy industries, as well as an increased focus on sustainability across all industries — from finance to real estate to food and agriculture to corporate responsibility. We need business leaders who can move forward quickly. Business schools must accelerate the move to create a just and thriving world within our planet’s environmental limits by training these leaders.
“While the recent layoffs in the tech industry are painful for those who have lost their jobs, they also offer an opportunity in the new year for a career reset to gain cutting-edge skills. A business education offers that reset. Haas’ unique strength is our recognition of sustainability as a core fundamental of business education and the breadth of sustainability-related programs within the business school itself.
“Much of this work in sustainability builds on our distinctive culture and UC Berkeley’s long history as a center for academic and social progress. Haas pioneered the study of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the 1970s, and launched the first student-managed SRI fund in the early 2000s. We are integrating climate and equity into our core business curriculum across all of our programs so every student graduates with an understanding of sustainability. Last year we launched the Michaels Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Business, and we are creating a new joint degree program, the MBA/MS in Climate Solutions, with the Rausser College of Natural Resources.
“MBA training at Haas is hands-on — and a perfect example of this is our Cleantech to Market program, now in its 14th year, which calls on teams to compete on strategies to bring cutting-edge technologies from the lab to market. It’s more critical than ever to train leaders who can prevent potentially game-changing technologies from languishing in the lab by moving them into the market.
“Beyond sustainability, I also expect to see increasing demand for skills in my other two priority areas: DEI and Innovation. Haas was the first top MBA program to require a diversity leadership course in the core, and we have also built a stellar, five-member DEI team under the direction of Dr. Élida Bautista, our chief DEI officer. They are critical in helping us recruit more diverse students, faculty, and staff; helping faculty make their course content and teaching more diverse and inclusive; and building a welcoming culture where everyone feels heard and a strong sense of belonging.”
HAAS COMMITS TO DIVERSITY — IN FRONT OF THE CLASS & IN THE SEATS
Jennifer Chatman, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the Haas School, seconds her dean’s emphasis on the importance of diversity in 2023, particularly among those who stand at the head of the classroom. “I predict,” she writes, “that faculty diversity will increasingly reflect the diversity of the MBA student body, and that cases and course materials will increasingly reflect a diverse set of business leaders.
“This is a priority at Haas,” Chatman continues. “Last year, we welcomed a diverse group of nine new professors and we added the course Business Communication in Diverse Work Environments to the core curriculum. The course will help students develop critical thinking on topics such as identity, relationships across differences, bias, and equality of opportunity in organizations. This will enable leaders from Berkeley Haas to create, work within, and lead diverse teams and global organizations. I also believe that business organizations will use the post-pandemic world to think more deliberately about resetting their cultures to align with the new opportunities and realities of work (e.g., hybrid/remote).”
Don Moore, like Chatman associate dean for academic affairs at Haas, adds a note about the layoffs that have shaken up the tech industry, and about the strength that Haas gains from diversity.
“In 2023, the layoffs in the tech industry will have more people thinking about a career reset, and the cooling market will spur more people to think about returning to school for an MBA. I also expect more top business schools to follow Haas’ lead and expand their online programs. Our Flex online/in-person MBA has proven to be extremely popular, allowing a greater range of people access to the MBA, and I expect programs like this to grow.
“I also predict that gender and racial diversity of students enrolling in MBA programs will continue to increase and we welcome the expanded range of perspectives that we are seeing. This year, 46% of our full-time MBA class of 247 students are women; 16% of the class identifies as LGBTQ; while 17% of the students are from underrepresented minority backgrounds. Internationally, we have 45 countries represented in our program. As our DEIJB Chief Élida Bautista celebrates five years at Haas and rounds out her team — which now includes five people — we are working to ensure that diverse groups continue to have a strong voice and that everyone feels truly included.”
MICHIGAN’S SHARON MATUSIK: TIME FOR B-SCHOOLS TO STEP UP AMID MYRIAD WORLD CHALLENGES
Sharon Matusik, dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, one of the premier public business schools in the United States, says 2023 is B-schools’ time to shine.
“Aside from the predictions from many around greater economic uncertainty, continuing shifts on the global geo-political landscape, a softening labor market, and continued widespread experimentation on hybrid work arrangements across the U.S. economy, there will be increased expectations that business schools play a more active role in helping to address the challenges on the horizon that we all collectively face,” writes Matusik, who was named dean of Michigan’s Ross School in May 2022. “Through our research, how we prepare our students, and how we engage with our business and alumni communities, we have an outstanding opportunity to showcase the important role we can play in shaping the future.
“I also anticipate that there will be increased importance placed on business schools to work collaboratively across their universities to help address some of these global challenges of our times such as climate change, economic inclusion, and technological disruptions. As one illustration, at Michigan Ross we partner with the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability to advance real-world business sustainability solutions through educational programs, research, and business engagement. Partnerships such as this provide great opportunities for business students to demonstrate their ability to work across areas to solve problems and create value during their business school experience. This will set them up for long-term career success. I predict that in the coming year, the world’s most desirable employers will place even greater value on those who can demonstrate that they can work effectively across areas and disciplines to create value.
“In 2023, I predict we will also see an even greater emphasis on action based learning in higher education, especially with ongoing changes in the way we work and the top skills that employers will be looking for. According to a recent survey, ‘one in five skills requested for the average U.S. job is an entirely new requirement in that occupation.’ How do business schools prepare their graduates to lead in a future that will look different from today – in ways that we can’t predict? Experiential learning is absolutely critical. Teaching our students to learn from experience, make decisions under conditions of uncertainty, and to move forward in the context of incomplete information are foundational skills that will prepare our graduates to succeed in a dynamic, changing future. Students will increasingly seek out educational experiences that combine classic academic excellence with curated experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for long-term success.
“Also, I predict we will see more divergence in business school strategies as a result of the shifting competitive landscape, and the resources and competencies each school has to leverage in the face of these changes. For example, some business schools will focus more squarely on undergraduate students in the face of an increasingly competitive MBA market, some will migrate toward online learning and eliminate more in-person programs, while still others will double down on high-impact, in-person experiences while also embracing the flexibility that technology provides. This is good news for students because it means more choices for them to find the kind of program that meets their needs.
“Finally, a sense of community is becoming more and more important to students making a choice to attend business school and selecting a school, and I foresee this continuing. Students not only want to benefit from the content knowledge they learn in business school, but they also want to be a part of an inclusive community that will value and support them while they are students, and far beyond that into the future. This means it will become increasingly important for business schools to cultivate connections and engagement between students and alumni from many different backgrounds, and at all stages of their careers.
“Overall, we are facing a 2023 characterized by economic uncertainty, continuing changes in the geo-political landscape, and shifts in the workforce. And where there is change, there is tremendous opportunity. Business schools that leverage opportunities to collaborate to solve big challenges, prepare students to thrive in a context of change, seek competitive positions that play to their strengths, and provide a supportive community to be a part of for the long haul will thrive in the face of all the new year will bring.”
LBS DEAN: B-SCHOOLS WILL NEED TO ADDRESS THE ‘FULL COMPLEXITY OF THE SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGE’
Across the Atlantic, London Business School Dean François Ortalo-Magné acknowledges the massive challenges of the past few years that will continue in 2023, war and climate change foremost among them. “There are so many big global challenges,” he writes. “Added to these, many of the underlying social issues that brought to the fore ‘Me Too’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ continue to beg for progress. The stakes are high – it’s about our sustainability, isn’t it?
“In 2021, eight European business schools came together to launch ‘Business Schools For Climate Leadership’ (BS4CL). A year later, other business schools joined the movement and ‘Business Schools For Climate Leadership Africa’ (BS4CL Africa).
“I am confident that 2023 will see even more business schools stepping up and contributing to the conversation. In addition, we will expand the scope of our efforts: business schools will work together to not only address the climate emergency, but also the full complexity of the sustainability challenge.
“As a conversation starter, may I offer the following definition of ‘sustainability’ from Forum for the Future: ‘Sustainability is a dynamic process which enables all people to realize their potential and to improve their quality of life in ways that simultaneously protect and enhance the Earth’s life support system.’
“Business schools can help people realize their potential and improve their quality of life. Let’s make this prediction reality.”
At another leading B-school in the UK, Cambridge Judge Business School, Sadia Cuthbert, director of the school’s careers office, says personal skills paired with analytics will be key for B-school graduates in 2023 and beyond.
“With higher energy costs reflecting the war in Ukraine, my prediction for the coming year is that business schools — and society — will increasingly focus not just on the cost of production but on the true costs involved in energy independence and the need for cleaner energy sources,” Cuthbert writes.
“As climate and sustainability pressures come to bear on corporates, brave decisions will need to be made by the next generation of leaders. Stakeholders are now expecting companies to take climate-related risks to business more seriously. Business schools must enable students to think beyond immediate returns, to innovate and to mitigate the climate risk to their businesses — to think differently. We must equip our students to be bold with ideas and methodologies, to understand the risks of no change and the need to drive the sustainability agenda using data and innovative thinking.
“Leadership styles where soft, personal skills were key to influencing change must now be paired with an increased awareness of technology, the ability to work with imprecise data and make decisions based on incomplete information, and the ability to think strategically.
“At Cambridge Judge Business School, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues play a key role in all our core courses and electives. We offer students the opportunity to work with companies on developing strategies via their experiential projects — for example, the Cambridge Venture Projects and Global Consulting Projects undertaken by Cambridge MBA students.
“All business schools will need to prepare students to ask the big questions and contribute to the global environmental agenda — and I think that’s a pretty safe prediction not only for 2023 but for the foreseeable future.”
2023: ‘REALLY INTERESTING CHANGES’ DRIVEN BY STUDENTS
Brian Mitchell, associate dean of full-time MBA programs and global strategy and initiatives at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, raises a hope that few of his colleagues mentioned: that amid all the seriousness, 2023 will be a fun year.
“I predict that 2023 will be a fun year for business schools because our students will drive some really interesting changes,” Mitchell writes. “The combination of the significant salary increases we saw in 2022, and fears of an economic slowdown — which big tech is already seeing — could reverse the trend of declining MBA applications and lead to enrollments that rival pre-pandemic numbers. With that would come an infusion of student-driven innovations that could be the hallmarks of this generation of MBA students. In large numbers, we could see students calling for courses that connect business with large-scale societal challenges, expanding the curricular conversation beyond climate to global poverty, food insecurity, migration, racial and gender equity and more. These are next-gen MBA topics and I believe we will see a pronounced shift in this direction in 2023.
“The second exciting opportunity coming in 2023 is the return to broad global engagement. Now that most countries have eased the travel and quarantine restrictions that defined much of the past two years, our faculty and students are eager to get back to global experiential learning opportunities particularly in Asia and Africa.”
Ed Grier, dean of Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, says 2023 will involve a lot of learning from so-called “boomerang leaders” — those who come out of retirement and return to lend their expertise to their former companies.
“Disney and Starbucks are just two global powerhouse brands whose wildly successful former CEOs have been called out of retirement to refocus their organization’s future,” says Grier, himself a former executive for Disney. “They are holistic creative leaders who have a vision of future opportunities and know how to strategically invest in their brand, while rewarding investors.
“Educational leaders like Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business, which provide a values-based curriculum, are preparing their students to contemplate how their business decisions will affect their customers, employees, brand, and the bottom line. In an ever-changing global environment, graduates who bring these values to their organization will deliver successful outcomes for their employers, stakeholders as well as for themselves.”
And Bradley R. Staats, senior associate dean of strategy and academics at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, focused on his school’s most pressing need: a new dean.
“In 2023,” Staats writes, “I predict that UNC Kenan-Flagler will hire a fantastic new dean who values our inclusive culture, which focuses on the Carolina Way — where we play hard, play smart, play together. Together we will continue fulfilling our mission to prepare leaders who make the world a better place. Guided by our core values of integrity, inclusion, innovation and impact, we will remain focused on how to unlock sustainable economic opportunities for all of our stakeholders.”
FLEXIBILITY & CUSTOMIZATION APLENTY IN THE U.S. CAPITAL
For Sudipta Dasmohapatra, beginning her first year as senior associate dean for MBA programs at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, 2023 brings a wealth of optimism.
“Our Full-time and Flex MBA programs welcomed diverse and dynamic incoming cohorts this fall, we announced the launch of a new online format to the Flex MBA in fall 2023, and we continue to keep our Jesuit values in focus as we develop principled and compassionate leaders in business,” she writes.
“Looking ahead to the upcoming year, it is my prediction that Georgetown and other business schools will continue to place a strong emphasis on the student experience, whether it be through customizable curriculums, flexible modalities, or experiential learning opportunities. Schools that understand their student’s passions and interests are well-positioned to build curricular and co-curricular offerings that meet their students directly where they are on their own professional journeys.
“Here at Georgetown, students who wish to deepen their understanding of specific issues have the opportunity to enroll in a selection of MBA certificate programs, including certificates in Global Real Estate, Sustainable Business, Consumer Analytics and Insights, and Nonmarket Strategy. These programs sit at the intersection of business and multiple disciplines to provide students with the opportunity to tailor their careers and build expertise in a particular industry or function. The world’s challenges are complex, and we need leaders who have the multidisciplinary knowledge necessary to make an impact in their chosen fields. As we move into 2023, we will continue to examine our portfolio of courses, listen to changing trends in business, and emphasize innovative specializations as we work to deliver an MBA degree that helps every student reach their full potential.
“This philosophy also holds true for the reach and flexibility of our programs. As we roll out our new Flex MBA Online, we aim to maximize the student learning experience while helping our students balance work, life, and school, no matter where they are located in the United States. This means delivering a combination of asynchronous and synchronous course content in addition to the experiences the Georgetown community is known for — global consulting projects, in-person residencies, student engagement opportunities, and intentional career programming.
“These tailored academic offerings reinforce our Jesuit value of cura personalis, or care for the whole person, where we recognize the individual needs of every student in our program and give them the tools and confidence they need to be successful. I hope we continue to see more personalized opportunities for students throughout 2023 and beyond.”
A BIG YEAR AT CORNELL
Dean Andrew Karolyi of Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business — which comprises three schools: the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and the Peter and Stephanie Nolan School of Hotel Administration — echoes his counterparts across graduate business education in emphasizing the importance of principled leadership. And he adds that this year and beyond, Cornell Johnson will be the world’s preeminent college “for developing responsible, principled leaders equipped to effect change essential to achieving sustainable, shared prosperity.
“Our collaborative research bridges business principles across our three schools and multidisciplinary areas, making an impact in agriculture, economics and policy, hospitality, real estate, sustainable business, management and organizations,” Karolyi writes.
“With the SC Johnson College of Business a signatory member of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME), we predict that we will be more closely aligned to PRME’s mission in the coming years. The mission is to transform business and management education, research and thought leadership globally, while promoting awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals, and developing the responsible business leaders of tomorrow. PRME works with the UN Global Compact to help advance goals in academia and connects responsible businesses with higher education institutions to help recruit talent with sustainability mindsets, skills and capabilities.
“As a board member of Responsible Research for Business and Management (RRBM), we predict that we and other business schools will establish stronger ties to RRBM’s goal of inspiring, encouraging, and supporting credible and useful research in the business and management disciplines. As we work towards these goals, here is an example from our college from Professor Sachin Gupta, a co-author of research titled ‘Spillover Effects of Mission Activities on Revenues in Nonprofit Health Care: The Case of Aravind Eye Hospitals, India.’ It was a winner and grant recipient of the AMA-EBSCO Annual Award for Responsible Research in Marketing and recently featured by Cornell University’s research department.”
FROM SPAIN, 3 IMPORTANT TRENDS FOR THE NEW YEAR
Marc Badia, associate dean of MBA and MiM programs at Spain’s IESE Business School, acknowledges the trends in sustainability and leadership as service, as well as “a renewed clamor for face-to-face teaching.” But he highlights three more trends for 2023.
“My first prediction is that we will see a more profound recognition of the importance of purpose and integrity across all aspects of business,” Badia writes. “Amidst recent high-profile corporate and political scandals, we have seen consensus growing around the need to have a strong corporate purpose. But we need to go deeper in 2023. On the one hand, this means promoting a new governance model for business guided by purpose, as IESE prof. Jordi Canals details in his new book. On the other, it also means emphasizing the importance of having a personal purpose. Just like in a company, we need to define our personal goals clearly, set a strategy, and then assign the proper resources to make it happen. Afterward, it is crucial to constantly measure and reassess what is happening. Sometimes you cannot measure the results, but you can always measure the effort. It’s about taking ownership and making conscious, life-shaping decisions toward your goals.
“In 2023, we will also see more collective attention paid to family businesses and their essential role in the global economy. Thanks to their typically more long-term approach to business, family firms are one of the most trusted forms of business, and have also proved remarkably resilient during times of crisis. Clearly, there are many lessons the wider business community can learn from their success. At the same time, I expect to see more programs and resources aimed at helping people grapple with the unique challenges of running or working within family businesses. At IESE, we have a long history of helping family firms through our family business Chair (the first of its kind in Europe) and the various dedicated programs, clubs, and resources we offer them. For example, our popular MBA elective on family business is designed to help students develop a plan for landing in their family’s business, with a particular focus on governance, family relationships and trust, and process handling. It gives participants the tools to think thoughtfully about their future roles and responsibilities in the family firm.
“Third, we will see more emphasis on the flexibility and stackability of learning formats, as more people seek ways to integrate periods of formalized learning throughout their lifetimes. This doesn’t mean, however, that business schools will move away from proven learning models. We know that discussion-based learning methodologies like the case method are exceptional at giving people the capabilities to lead in any environment. And programs that can provide these types of real-world focused interactions, where you collaborate with and learn from people with varying points of view, will continue to go from strength to strength. But with the advance of new technologies, it’s possible to provide exceptional learning experiences in various flexible options and interweave different methodologies depending on the objective of each program.
“It’s about delivering the right content and formats, depending on each person’s situation, needs, and stage in life — and in a way that can be integrated across people’s professional career.”
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